vegan honey

Dookie

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Morning all

Im a newbie and the thing that Im struggling with the most is honey. I have 3 hives in my garden which i've had for many years now, from when i was a meat eater, to vegetarian now to vegan. I look after these hives well its very bee central approach, queens cells are not destroyed, swarms are collected and rehomed, no smoke is used on them.

I plan to only take the surplus honey at the end of the year. Bees because they are such little hard workers make to much honey, and this is what I intend to take.

I want to be a good vegan but Ive had bees in my life for so long now I dont think I can get rid of them.

Is it ok to call myself a vegan if i still eat ethical honey?

Please say yes

Cheers

Richard
 

gab

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Hi Richard,

It is best to not worry about labels :p

I would imagine half the vegans would think eating honey is not vegan, the other half would say that you can eat honey and still be vegan.

Gab
 
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winter.frost

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Hello Richard/Dookie. Welcome to the forum :)
I would imagine half the vegans would think eating honey is not vegan, the other half would say that you can eat honey and still be vegan.

No, they really wouldn't. I have never met a vegan who ate honey, and - as far as I'm aware - it's pure hearsay that there are such 'vegans'. In all my years, I have never heard of or met a single one online or in RL. The closest I have seen would be vegans allowing newbies to transition slowly.

There is such a thing as beeganism however. No joke. No, you cannot call yourself a vegan - but you can be a beegan. There are some locavore movements 'on the up' but they are not really significant enough yet to make a difference.

However there certainly are better ways of harvesting honey. This organisation is brilliant at spelling out the differences http://www.naturalbeekeepingtrust.org/ using top bar and warré hive methods. Reading the concessions you make it is clear that you have given it some thought, but there are many other factors when it comes to causing bees no harm. Where did the swarm come from? What is the design of the hives? Do you use selection of any sort? How are the queens treated? How do you know/how can you determine what is 'surplus' honey? Can you be part of a healthy symbiosis with your bees that benefits them more than you? Why not keep them without harvesting honey?

If you want to keep honey in your diet I would research the methods and ways you can raise the standard of living for your bees. Remember, it takes a bee and entire lifetime just to make a table-spoon's worth of honey.

You should also consider using agave syrup, golden syrup, or maple syrup.
 
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Dookie

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I have a range of hives, 2 nationals and 1 top bar. The swarms are collected by me because i am the swarm colletor for my area. This means that when a hive swarms and land somewhere where people dont want them to be (for example in their eves of their homes) I collect them and bring them back to my setup. No selection and just put them in their hive and let them get on with it. The queen is left alone until the bees have enough of her and kill her by themselves. I collect the honey in the summer after the winter so i know they dont need it.

Isn't golden syrup made from refined white sugar which is bad for you?
 
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winter.frost

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Isn't golden syrup made from refined white sugar which is bad for you?

Yep, but no-ones talking about health here. I can put my health hat on if you like though. :)

Honey keeps. It is naturally anti-bacterial. Can we really know that the 'surplus' honey is really surplus? Don't we all like to make sure there's something left in the cupboards? I suppose we cannot know whether depleting their store causes psychological distress - we simply don't know enough about the minds of insects. These are all hypothetical questions, I am not 100% sure which side of the fence I would fall on, but they are worth thinking about regardless of your final decision (at least, I think so).
 
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gab

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winter.frost, for example her:


raw vegan for 11 years, not eaten honey in 5 years - i.e. for about 6 years she did eat honey whilst being vegan.

This was just one of a number of examples that I found.
 

Damo

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I can see how honey seems to be a bit of a grey area, but if you were to follow the definition of veganism it's not.

"A philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals."

@gab In that video she quotes how her local farmers love their bees and would never harm their bees, is there a safe way to extract honey? I mean I'm no bee keeper but when was the last time you moved an insect with your hand or removed one from your home? The point I'm trying to make is that I don't think it's possible to safely extract honey from bees without harming a good percentage of their colony. We have so many choices for food, I'm sure we could leave honey off the table.
I feel like we'd have a lot more bees in the world if we didn't intervene. Honey is their food, stealing is wrong.

Just my opinion of course.
 
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Dookie

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What!! I am a bee keeper and there would be a lot less bees in the world if we didnt intervene. You think the public would be happy for a bees nest at their house.

Also you dont hurt bees when extracting honey you put a one way door on the super, which is where they store the surplus food. Which I take.
 
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Dookie

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Do you think wild bee colony dont suffer from CCD? We dont know what causes it so lets not get ahead of ourselves. I collect swarms because the public dont want bees near their homes, if I didnt collect these swarms people would try and kill them.
 
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winter.frost

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CCD is affecting wild colonies as well. It's affecting all colonies.
Sure, we don't know what is causing it but bets are humans are involved... :neutral:

I think it's great that you save swarms, by the way!
 

Damo

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I wouldn't say there's anything wrong with keeping bees unless you kept them to harvest their honey. Having a bee sanctuary sounds pretty heroic to me.
 

gab

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@Damo I do not consume honey myself - just that looking at this thread, we seem to be coming hard on someone who is a newbie vegan that still consumes honey. I feel that this could turn away the new vegan, so to balance things out a bit, I brought in the argument that as far as I know (by reading, watching videos) quite a few vegans still consume honey. Is it perfectly fine to harvest honey ? Of course not, but everyone has to start somewhere and learn along the way.

That is my view on things, just wanting to be a 'moderate' vegan rather than an 'extremist' vegan :cool:
 
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winter.frost

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Hi again @gab.

For me, I can tell Richard here has given it some thought and that is great. Personally, I am aware of there being excellent standards of keeping bees - but I would like to know more about 'surplus' honey (whether it really is surplus, whether harvesting it causes psychological distress). I mention locavorism because there is a small, up-and-coming movement that looks first at the environmental impact of import and shipping miles (as well as the health of local economies). A locavore would argue that it would be better to consume (British/local) honey than cane syrup, or maple syrup, or agave syrup, because all of these substitutes have to be flown great distances and heavily processed before reaching us. From a locavore standpoint, if you live in the UK, honey would be a good choice of sweetener - but not just any honey, of course, we would hope people would look to natural beekeeping methods.

What I am really interested to see is whether this locavore movement grows and how it will interact with veganism. There might be some 'vegans' who decide that eating more local foods trumps the overall affect of importing foods from all over the world. What would these people call themselves? I find this really, really interesting and I have been keeping my eye on the developments.

But 'veganism' is a distinct word. Beeganism is another matter. Maybe @Damo and I could consider adding it as a dietary option on the forum? Both @Damo and I would consider ourselves moderates - this is why we added the 'flexitarian' option to the forum. Simply speaking, however, I think we both want to see the word 'vegan' used properly because it is a word that is under attack. Not from transitioning vegans, mostly from the media. And because if we allow people to consider honey 'vegan' then it will make it difficult to make a complaint in a restaurant that serves a tofu mousse with honey drizzled on top. It's a bit like the problem that vegetarianism has with people believing that it includes fish - when that's pescetarianism.

So, yep, maybe we could add 'beegan' as a dietary option here? What do you guys think?
 
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gab

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Thank you for providing the extra detail Winter.frost. It makes perfect sense and I fully agree that someone calling themselves vegan should not be using honey. (I dread the thought of restaurants considering honey as being vegan ... ).

Beegan - I guess ... would much rather the 'beegans' turned into 'vegans'.
 
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